Doctors demand answers over end-of-life care funding

Fraser Barton |

The AMA is seeking urgent investment in aged and end-of-life care.
The AMA is seeking urgent investment in aged and end-of-life care.

Queensland’s government is being urged to make further investments in palliative care amid uncertainty over the allocation of previous funds.

The Australian Medical Association’s Queensland branch has made 14 priority submissions to the Miles government ahead of the June state budget.

Treasurer Cameron Dick is set to spruik further cost-of-living initiatives including a $1000 energy rebate for all Queensland households and the freezing of vehicle registration fees for one year from July 1.

The medical association’s budget submissions cover everything from funding the workforce to substance-related harm.

But they are specifically seeking urgent investment in aged and end-of-life care, including palliative care and voluntary assisted dying (VAD) services.

Queensland Treasurer Cameron Dick
Queensland Treasurer Cameron Dick is due to hand down the state budget in June. (Jono Searle/AAP PHOTOS)

Queensland president Maria Boulton has also asked for an independent review of the rural and remote community-based palliative care services, which previously received $171 million in funding.

“While the palliative care investment promise two years ago was welcome, it is unclear what programs have been supported and how much remaining funding is yet to be allocated,” Dr Boulton said.

“The government must ensure all unallocated funds are reinvested in end-of-life care with a focus on services in First Nations communities to allow community members to die with dignity on country.”

The medical body is calling for increased investment in aged care and greater support for GPs, as well as the expansion of access to palliative care.

Dr Boulton said the eligibility access period should increase to 12 months, up from three.

She also wants eligibility for a medical aids subsidy scheme to be expanded to include the last 12 months of life, rather than six.

Dr Boulton said there was a significant gap between supply and demand for end-of-life care, particularly in regional, rural and remote areas.

“Doctors and health services need VAD-specific funding, particularly for community-based services, longer GP consultations and for practitioners to travel to outer-area patients,” she said.

“VAD must have its own separate funding stream in the budget that does not reduce funding for other end-of-life services.”